no. 7.419

Large Deciduous Trees

by J.E. Klett and C. Wilson* (12/11)

Quick Facts...

  • Trees provide shade, beauty and protection from harsh winter winds.
  • Trees help moderate temperature extremes and offset poor air quality.
  • Plant trees on the basis of space available, soil conditions, proximity to irrigation lines and water requirements.
  • Plant trees prone to storm breakage away from buildings, walks, and driveways.

Everyone enjoys the beauty a shade tree provides. Trees also reduce harsh winds, moderate temperature extremes, and offset poor air quality.

How to Select a Tree

To select a tree, consider the following factors.

Available space. The location you choose for each tree should have enough space to allow for growth without severe pruning. Check for obstructions of buildings, overhead utility lines and tall fences. If lateral space is limited, select a tree that has a narrow, upright growth habit. Refer to height, branch spread and shape in the tree list shown in Table 1. If overhead lines are near, you may want to choose small trees. (See fact sheet 7.418, Small Deciduous Trees.)

Soil conditions. Most trees perform best in well-drained soil. If you have compacted soil that is hard to work, loosen the soil and mix in organic material to a depth of at least 12 inches before planting your tree.

Irrigation lines. If you have an underground irrigation system, plant trees to allow for the tree trunk and basal root flare to expand without encroaching on an irrigation pipe. Otherwise, tree roots may eventually compress the pipe and shut off the irrigation line.

Growth rates vs. brittleness. As a general rule, fast-growing trees tend to be brittle and can be damaged by limb breakage in storms. Plant these trees away from buildings, sidewalks, driveways and utility lines.

Water requirements. Trees vary in water requirements. Do not plant trees that have low water needs in heavily irrigated lawn areas or at the bottom of slopes. Plant trees with high water requirements in locations where supplemental watering is possible and desired. In dry years, fall and winter watering is critical to the health of trees. Trees under drought stress are more susceptible to insect and diseases. For details, see 7.211, Fall and Winter Watering.

Large Trees for Shade

Table 1 includes trees that will exceed 30 feet in height when fully grown. These trees should not be placed under or near power lines or other overhead structures. Use onehalf of branch spread (diameter) indicated below to determine minimum distance from structures. Greater distrance from structures may be desirable.

Description of Tree Shapes

The following tree shapes describe the general outline of the trees in the accompanying tree list. Use this chart in combination with height and branch spread to determine proper location of trees and ensure adequate clearance from obstacles.

columnar shape Figure 1: Columnar. Sides more or less parallel, much more tall than broad. conical shape Figure 4: Conical. Cone-shaped. Broad at base, tapering to a narrow top. upright spreading shape Figure 6: Upright spreading. A narrow vase shape.
weeping shape Figure 2. Weeping. Branches tend to weep downward. broad spreading shape Figure 5: Broad spreading. A wide vase shape. elliptical shape Figure 7: Elliptical. More tall than broad, widest branching at or near the middle.
round or globe shape Figure 3: Round or globe. About as broad as tall.  

 
Table 1: Large deciduous trees for shade.
Plant Name Mature Size
(H x W)
Tree
Shape
Growth
Rate1
Soil
Moisture2
Aesthetic Value
and Cultural Hints

Acer x freemanii
   Freeman maple

   ‘Autum Blaze’


   Celebration®


45 x 35

45 x 35


45 x 25


rounded

rounded


columnar


m-f

m-f


m-f


M

M


M


Hybrid of Silver and Red maple.

Orange-red fall color. Similar iron chlorois problems to Silver maple.

Red to gold fall color. Similar iron chlorois problems to Silver maple

Acer plantanoides
   Norway maple


   'Columnare'


   'Crimson Sentry’'


   'Deborah'


   'Emerald Queen'


   'Fairview'


   'Royal Red'


50 x 40


50 x 20


30 x 20


50 x 40


50 x 40


50 x 30


40 x 30


rounded


columnar


columnar


rounded


rounded


columnar


rounded


m


m-f


m


m


m


m


m


M


M


M


M


M


M


M

Dark green, dense foliage. Yellow fall color, subject to leaf scorch in dry conditions and limited rooting situations.

Good for tight, narrow locations. Street tree.


Compact, upright growth. Purple foliage year round.


Red foliage changes to green in summer. Straight leader.


Dark green foliage with dense branching habit.


New growth deep red-purple maturing to bronze-red

Dark, glossy red foliage all summer. Similar to Crimson King but more cold hardy.

Acer rubrum
    Red maple


    'Northwood'

 

   'Red Sunset'


45 x 40


45 x 35

 

45 x 40


conical


rounded

 

broad,
conical


f


m

 

f


H


H

 

H


Red flowers in early spring. Red fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.

Hardiest red maple. Red-orange fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.

Red flowers in early spring.
Red fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.

Acer saccharinum
   Silver maple



   'Skinner'


65 x 50



50 x 40


variable



rounded


f



f


H



H


Bright green foliage with silvery undersides. Tends to be brittle. Yellow fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.


Deeply cut, feathery leaves. Branches tend to weep in graceful arch. Yellow fall color. Avoid very alkaline soils.

Acer saccharum
   Sugar maple



   'Green Mountain'


   'Legacy'


40 x 35



40 x 35


45 x 45


oval



oval


oval


s



s-m


s-m


H



H


H


Red-orange fall color. Prefers improved well-drained soils.


Thick waxy leaves resist scorch and retain summer color. Tolerates dry soils. Red-orange fall color.

Fast growing for a Sugar maple. Thick leaves resist scorch. Red-orange fall color.

Aesculus glabra
   Ohio buckeye


35 x 20


broad,
rounded


m


M


Red-orange-yellow fall color. Cream colored flowers in terminal clusters in spring. Nut-like fruit.

Aesculus hippocastanum
   Horsechestnut


60 x 45


broad,
conical


s


M


Large clusters of white flowers in late spring. Spiny fruit. Best used in large open lawn areas.

Betula papyrifera
   Paper birch


40 x 25


elliptical


m


H

Yellow fall color. Peeling bark. Plant in cool, moist sites. Fall and winter watering important.

Betula pendula 'Gracilis'
   Cutleaf weeping
   birch



50 x 30



weeping



m



H


Yellow fall color. Plant where soil stays cool and moist. Avoid south and west exposures. White bark. Fall and winter watering important.

Carpinus betulus
   'Fastigiata'
   Columnar hornbeam


   'Frans Fontaine'


35 x 25



35 x 15


narrow,
columnar


narrow,
columnar


s



s


H



H

Dark green, foliage much like elm. Plant where soil stays cool. Avoid south or west exposures. Muscle-like trunk. Air pollution tolerant.


Narrow form maintained into maturity.

Catalpa speciosa
   Northern catalpa


50 x 25


narrow,
upright


s


M

Showy, white, orchid-like flowers in early summer. Bean-like pods often remain on trees all winter. Large heart-shaped leaves.

Celtis occidentalis
   Common hackberry


55 x 50


broad,
spreading


s-m


L


Adapts to most soils. Yellow fall color. Warty bark. Drought and wind tolerant. Small red to purple fruit.

Cladrastris kentukea (lutea)
   American
   yellowwood



35 x 35



round



m



M



Fragrant white flowers in late spring followed by 4 inch seed pods. Tolerant of most soils.

Fraxinus americana
   American Ash

   'Autumn Purple'


60 x 50

50 x 50


elliptical

round


m

m


M

M


Yellow to purple fall color.

Yellow/red-purple fall color. Seedless.

Fraxinus mandshurica
   'Mancana'


45 x 25


oval


m


M


Pointed, dark brown buds. Yellow fall color. Seedless.

Fraxinus
pennsylvanica

   Green ash

   Marshalls Seedless

   'Patmore'

   'Summit'



50 x 30

50 x 35

50 x 30

50 x 25



round

elliptical

elliptical

upright



m

m

m

m



M

M

M

M


Yellow fall color. Adapts to wide range of soils. May have seeds.

Yellow fall color. Street tree. Seedless.

One of the hardiest. Seedless.

Female will produce seed. Yellow fall color.

Fraxinus nigra 'Fall
Gold'
   Black ash



45 x 20



upright



m



M



Hardy, seedless, golden yellow fall color.

Gleditsia
triacanthos
inermis

   Thornless
   honeylocust

   'Imperial'


   'Shademaster'


   'Skyline'


   'Sunburst'




65 x 40


40 x 40


50 x 40


45 x 40


35 x 35




variable


rounded


broad,
spreading

broad,
conical

variable




m


m


m


m


m




M


M


M-F


M


M




Seedling selection. Not always thornless.


Foliage is fern-like and bright green. Thornless. May produce pods.

Dark green, ferny foliage. Podless and thornless. Upright branches.


Dark green foliage. Uniform upright branching. Thornless and essentially podless.

Yellow-tipped foliage. May be more prone to diseases. Podless and thornless.

Gymnocladus dioica
   Kentucky Coffeetree


50 x 40


variable


s


L

May be male or female. Female has leathery seed pods. Interesting winter form.

Phellodendron amurense
   Amur corktree


35 x 30


rounded


m


M


Corky fissured bark. Male trees avoid fruit odor. Tolerates pollution and drought.

Populus x acuminata
   Lanceleaf
   cottonwood



50 x 40



elliptical



f



H



Yellow fall color. Shiny, spear-shaped leaves.

Populus alba
   Silver (white) poplar


   'Pyramidalis'
   Bolleana (white)
   poplar


75 x 60



45 x 15


broad,
spreading


narrow,
columnar


f



f


H



H


Leaves green above and silvery white below. Greenish-white bark. Suckers from roots.


Good for fast screen planting. Short-lived due to diseases. Silvery, lobed, maple-like leaves.

Populus angustifolia
   Narrowleaf
   cottonwood


55 x 40


columnar


f


H


Yellow fall color. Root suckers, thus should be used where it can be allowed to spread in groves.

Populus deltoides 'Siouxland'
   'Siouxland'
   Cottonwood



75 x 40



elliptical



f



H



Cottonless. Easily transplanted.

Populus nigra 'Italica'
   Lombardy poplar


60 x 15


narrow,
columnar


f


H


Use as temporary screen planting. Due to diseases, shorter lived than Upright European aspen.

Populus sargentii
   Plains cottonwood


80 x 50


rounded


f


H

Native of the plains along rivers. Cottonless (male) selections available. Triangular leaves.

Populus tremula 'Erecta'
   Upright European
   aspen


40 x 15


upright


f


H


Use as screen planting. More disease resistant and long-lived than Lombardy. Yellow/orange-red fall color.

Quercus bicolor
   Swamp white oak


50 x 45


upright,
spreading


m


M


Adapts to clay soils and irrigated lawns. Fall color usually yellow. Flaky bark.

Quercus x
‘Crimschmidt’

   Crimson Spire® Oak



45 x 15



columnar



m



M



Narrow form adapted to tight spaces. Red fall color. Full sun.

Quercus macrocarpa
   Bur oak


60 x 50


broad,
spreading


s


L


Tolerates alkaline soils and drought. Corky ridged twigs. Fringed cap on acorn.

Quercus
muehlenbergii

   Chinquapin oak



40 x 40



broad,
spreading



m



L



Alkaline soil tolerant. Sharp-toothed leaves that are green above and white below.

Quercus robur
   English oak


   'Fastigata'


50 x 40


45 x 15


rounded


columnar


m


m


M


M

Broad, stout, spreading branches. Glossy, dark green, leaves that turn brown and persist into winter.


Narrow form for small spaces. Brown fall color.

Quercus rubra
   Red oak


40 x 50


broad,
spreading


m


M


Often broader than tall. Fall color usually maroon-red. Avoid very alkaline soils.

Salix alba 'Tristis'
   Niobe weeping
   willow


50 x 50


rounded,
weeping


f


H


Yellow fall color, brittle twigs. Best sited near water.

Salix matsudana 'Navajo'
   Navajo globe willow


35 x 35


globe


f


H

Formal globe shape. Brilliant green foliage in spring. May suffer freeze injury in some area. Widely used on Western slope.

Sophora japonica (syn. Styphnolobium japonicum)
   Japanese
   pagodatree



50 x 40



rounded



m



M



Creamy flowers in midsummer. Pinched, pea-like pods in fall. Olive green twigs.

Tilla americana
   American linden


   American Sentry®
    Linden

   'Redmond'
   Redmond linden


60 x 50


40 x 25


45 x 25


broad,
conical

conical


conical


m


m


m-f


M


M


M

Large heart-shaped leaves. Fragrant flowers in early summer. Yellow fall color. May sucker near base.


Narrow, straight trunked form for small spaces. Full sun.


Striking reddish buds/twigs in winter.

Tilla cordata
   Littleleaf linden


   'Greenspire'



   'Glenleven'


45 x 30


45 x 25



45 x 30


conical


conical
to oval


open conical


m


m



m


M


M



M


Dense foliage. May sucker near base. Creamy-yellow fragrant flowers. Attract bees.

Neat formal appearance. Glossy, dark green leaves. Cinnamon colored bark. Yellow fall color.


Vigorus, open habit.

Ulmus x ‘Frontier’
   Frontier Elm


35 x 25


elliptical


m


M


Small stature with red fall color. Dutch elm disease tolerant.

Ulmus x ‘Triumph’
   Triumph Elm


50 x 40


elliptical


m


M


Glossy, dark green leaves have yellow fall color.

1Growth rate:
      s = slow
      m = moderate
      f = fast
2Soil moisture:
      H = heavy water needs; more than normal lawn watering.
      M = moderate water needs; normal lawn watering.
      L = low-water needs; can withstand drought.

1J.E. Klett, Colorado State University Extension landscape horticulturist and professor, horticulture and landscape architecture; and C. Wilson, Extension horticulture agent, Denver County. 1/00. Revised 12/11.

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Updated Wednesday, January 08, 2014

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